The University of California Student Association (UCSA) is taking political competition to a whole new level for the upcoming Nov. 2 elections.
In mid-September, the organization decided to make the voter registration process a little more interesting by creating a UC- and CSU-wide competition to see which school’s volunteer team can register the most students on randomly chosen “competition days.”
Whichever school’s volunteer team has the most students registered on a chosen day, or within a range of days, wins a prize. With this competition, the UCSA hopes to spark political interest in Californian college students, and also get as many as possible to vote on Nov. 2.
“The competition was created to make sure we are doing our jobs,” said SUA organizing director Nestor Rivera. “It is a real test of our organization skill. Basically, if we’re doing our job right, we should win.”
Tactics to register voters include tabling in Quarry Plaza and going door-to-door at on-campus apartments.
On the first selected competition day, Sept. 21, UCSC did just that when it won with a total of 176 students registered. UC Santa Barbara won the second contest, this one spanning three consecutive competition days, Sept. 27 through Sept. 29, with a total of 530 newly registered students, while UCSC tailed behind them with a total of 420.
The UCSA competition, however, is merely a bonus to an already active UCSC voter registration campaign.
“We have registered above 1,000 students so far,” Rivera said, “but our ultimate goal is 4,000 before Oct. 18.”
As the Oct. 18 voter registration deadlines approach, many students may have to think for the first time about whether to register to vote in their hometown county or in Santa Cruz County.
Fourth-year Diane Le, chapter president of College Democrats of UCSC, offered some insight to yet-to-be registered students.
“It all depends where a student’s interests lie,” said Le, who is registered to vote in Santa Cruz County. “It is especially important for liberals that students get their vote out. If we can’t turn out the youth vote, Democrats can’t win.”
Le, a politics major, said her choice was easy after working on a campaign for city council member Neal Coonerty.
“I worked closely with Neal Coonerty on his campaign,” Le said. “Also, the club itself has very close ties to the democratic party in Santa Cruz and therefore a closer attachment to local issues.”
First-time voter first-year Mark McGowan registered to vote in his home county of Los Angeles. He said he is happy with his choice to vote via absentee ballot.
“Even though the issues I’ll be voting for may not affect me as a student, I’ll be able to vote on a lot of issues I cared about before I came to UCSC,” McGowan said. “I know I won’t be able to vote on local issues that may affect me more directly than state issues, but I’m more interested in state issues anyway, so I really don’t mind.”
Personal judgment plays as much of an important role in where a student registers as it does in whom a student votes for.
“Santa Cruz is a blue county, but the county a student comes from may be red,” Le said. “A student should register where they think their vote will count the most.”
For those students who have yet to register, registration forms can be dropped off in the mailbox on the top floor of the student union. If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed about who and what to vote for Nov. 2, look for the Oct. 28 issue of City on a Hill Press for an easy-to-understand voter guide with information about the upcoming election.